Sivako! In Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, that rally cry means “rise to the challenge.” Every day in Central Florida, nonprofit organizations do just that by improving the lives of countless families and their children in the community.
Today at the Orlando Museum of Art, Walt Disney World Resort honored 100 of those organizations by awarding more than $4 million in Disney Grants. These groups extended help to those in need and provided the magical kind of support that aligns with Disney’s philanthropic approach.
“The organizations represented here this morning make better lives possible for those in our area who need it most,” said George A. Kalogridis, president of Walt Disney World Resort. “Our grants give us an opportunity to recognize the hard work and dedication of the nonprofit organizations who help change lives each and every day.”
Through the support of Disney Grants, the signature giving program of Walt Disney World Resort, organizations throughout Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Lake and Polk counties receive donations to continue positively impacting the lives of Central Florida children and families. An array of programs and services are represented in this year’s 100 recipients, including children’s after school services, arts enrichment programs and health care centers for the uninsured.
In addition to helping organizations in Central Florida, Disney also donated $250,000 to the Heart of Florida United Way for hurricane relief efforts to help people in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. This is on top of $3.5 million that The Walt Disney Company already committed for this season’s hurricane relief. Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria devastated parts of Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and other areas of the Caribbean. Disney employees and Cast Members have also been encouraged to donate to relief efforts, which will be eligible for matching gifts by the company. The funds will help the response and recovery efforts of the American Red Cross, UNICEF, Save the Children, and other nonprofits.
As part of today’s special recognition ceremony inspired by Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, Kalogridis and Joe Rohde, portfolio creative executive for Walt Disney Imagineering, spoke to the recipients about how the work non-profits do every day aligns with one of the pillars behind Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park: a personal call to action. These organizations were selected as Disney Grant recipients because of the way they inspire Central Florida neighbors to live better lives through their personal calls to action. As the ceremony concluded, Kalogridis surprised each recipient to further explore that pillar themselves, with each organization receiving complimentary theme park tickets.
As a company with nearly 73,000 Cast Members in Central Florida, Walt Disney World Resort is committed to investing in the community in ways that directly improve the lives of Central Florida children and families. Walt Disney World Resort provided more than $34 million of cash and in-kind donations to local organizations last year.